Liveblogging the 2019 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (4)–“2nd Morning Sessions, including Memorandum of Agreement”

Honorable Kåre Aas Ambassador of Norway to the USA (last year Grand Marshal of Seattle’s Ballard 17th of May Festival–celebrates Norwegian Constitution Day)

By 2050, global population will be 10 billion people; wants to speak of the ocean’s role; absorbs carbon dioxide, provides food. Yet much polluted, especially by microplastics. Washington State and Norway both leaders in dealing with oceanic issues like this. Norway making ferries electrified; also working on autonomous electrified container ship.


Honorble Cyrus Habib, Lt. Governor, Washington State

By 2030, state mandates 100% clean energy. Governor Inslee is pushing this; Habib thinks this will also create jobs that will be future-facing, as part of new technologies. Maritime innovation is important, and Washington State is also electrifying state’s ferry fleet.

Norway and Washington State signing memorandum of agreement to cooperate in these areas.

Chris Green, Director Washington State Department of Commerce and Gro Eirin Dyrnes, Regional Director Americas, Innovation Norway

sign on behalf of respective entities

Green says your partners need to share values and virtues; example, value of stewardship of environment; virtues of commitment and enthusiasm.

Liveblogging the 2019 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (3)–“Panel: The Coming Internet of Things Big Bang”

Monica Nickelsburg, Moderator, Civic Editor, Geekwire

Knut Eirik Gustavsen EVP US eSmart Systemsm (Norway); Chris Hansen, R&D Director Nordic Semiconductor; Hjalti Thorarinsson, VP of Innovation, Marel; Anders Mikkelsen, Director Business Development, DNV GL

  1. Knut Gustavsen: IoT to digitalize grid, with drones, cloud computing; utilities are target market;
  2. Chris Hansen, from Portland Nordic Semiconductor office; Danish roots; been in USA 25 years; specialize in low-power wireless silicon; fabless semiconductor company; Bluetooth named for second Danish king;
  3. Jjalti Thorainssson, Iceland roots; now works for Marel, food-processing equipment maker; “been doing IoT since 1983” in factory in South Africa with 350 connected devices;
  4. Anders Mikkelsen, Director DNV GL, “Quality Assurance and Risk Management Company” and “World’s largest and most innovative Classification Society”; Mikkelsen part of maritime business area; building “Veracity” data platform, based on Microsoft Azure; see themselves as traditional engineering company driving into new area, to be relevant

Panel Discussion:

  1. Question on political environment: Ewaldsson: need a stronger research ecosystem in USA, like Nordic model; linked to USA competitiveness; China will make huge investments, also in USA; Europe a bit slower out of the gate now
  2. Question on IoT and emergency response: Gustavsen, PG&E needed better tools to know the nature of its own grid conditions; IoT will revolutionize tradition industries; with communication, ex: “eye in the sky,” drones, camera on helmets; help for predictive maintenance too, not just emergency response
  3. Issue: IoT about amount of data, not numbers of connected devices; security and personal privacy must be secure
  4. Regulation question: one answer, regulators need to take the first step
  5. Use and ownership of data; contracts between users and device providers and platforms just in their infancy (Ewaldsson)
  6. Question from audience: how can infrastructure how people manage wasteful consumption patterns globally? Answer from Marel representative: data on sustainable production of food products will help consumer understand these issues; Answer from Nordic Semiconductor: devices that run on batteries, if you reduce battery power consumption by half, you can increase device’s application tenfold; so cheaper, low-power devices can harvest much more data; asset-tracking will save a lot of waste

Liveblogging the 2019 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (2)–“Leading the Mobility Revolution into 5G and IoT; Ulf Ewaldsson”

Ulf Waldsson, SVP Technology Transformation, T-Mobile

  1. Device Evolution; standards development, the success story of telecommunciations, from 19th century to today
  2. Nordic success story; government specifications, Nordic requirement–low frequency 450 MHz, big coverage, Ericsson and Nokia designed to it (1G); 2G end of 1980s, digital;
  3. Netscape browser 1994, Internet coming to phones, 3G
  4. Wide Area Networks, globally competitive Qualcomm; Personal Area Network, example Bluetooth, from Ericsson (named after Viking Eric the Bluetooth)
  5. 2007 Smart phones, iPhone, brought whole ecosystem onto device
  6. growth of smart phones, 8 B subscribers, for 5B world population; many have more than one subscription
  7. Sixty percent of phone communication is video; going to 75% in next 3 years; 5G needed, “rich in use cases”; a platform for other innovation; “one of the most transformative events in telecommunications industry, ever”
  8. Three million jobs in USA will be created by 5G; 500B USD worth of economic growth
  9. China investing 400B USD in 5G innovation
  10. transforming example: 4G led to Uber and other “mobile-first” industries
  11. T-Mobile had big foucs in LTE networks; 326M population coverage in T-Mobile network; 99% of USA population, low-spectrum networks
  12. If it can be 5G network, next year, 2020, will launch network
  13. On proposed merger, 3 rationales; “Leading the 5G revolution,” “Supercharging the Un-carrier,” “Creating new jobs”
  14. Want “5G for all,” “the true mobile, broad experience”

Liveblogging the 2019 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (1)–“Opening & Keynote Great at Work, Moren Hansen”

Conference Chair Birger Steen opens this second Nordic Innovation Conference, 16 May 2019. Venue isSeattle’s National Nordic Museum. Conference rationale “A Nordic mirror to the USA Pacific Northwest.”

Remarks by Honorable Reuven Carlyle, Washington State Senator: in time where institutions are problematic, never more important for servant leadership. “Best practices from around the world are so critical.” “Washington State is exploding with innovation.” “Climate change is not just another department down the hall.”

Keynote by Professor Morten T. Hansen (with Norwegian background), University of California Berkeley School of Information, author of Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.

Seven key factors of their study (n=5000), 7 chapters in his book. Focus for this talk:

  1. Do Less, then Obsess (if you use every technique, you have backup, but don’t become an expert in any; too much coordination, complexity cost; specialization–get the best, and not by advertising, since they best don’t need to respond to ads; brutal prioritization, get good at it; 1.1 Set objectives; 1.2 Choose “extremely few,” prioritize one; 1.3 Say No, “one of the most important professional skills today,” to say no to good or attractive things); 1.4 Obsess, example Sushi restaurant of Sukiyabashi Jiro (book p. 23), “massage the octopus” for 50 minutes to make it softer, more palatable; “are you massaging the octopus in your line of business?”; use the right metrics (customer-focused; “value metric”) not internal metrics (efficiency); Value = benefit to others x efficiency x high quality; book has “5 ways to create value”, p. 55)
  2. Ways to create value; see above
  3. High Passion: Feel for work focused energy and High Purpose: the way you perform; leaders must infuse work with passion and purpose (purpose pyramid: 1st layer: create value for customers internal and external and do no harm; 2nd layer: purpose is personal, craft personal meaning; create personal connection to job; are you creating purpose when you recruit for a job; 3rd layer: seek social mission; example Dannon; align purpose with strategy); conclusion Link Value to Purpose
  4. Mastering your work life, final chapter. Doing these things can make work life, and life overall, better for the people who do it.


Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (8)–“Nordic Ways: Values for Innovation & Global Economic Success”

Final Panel of the Conference: “Nordic Ways–Values that Underpin Innovation and Global Economic Success” Moderator: Jay L. Bruns III (University of Washington); Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers; Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament; Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador; Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador; Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador, Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir, Kara Connect (Iceland).

Also pitch for book by author András Simonyi on Nordic Ways [András Simonyi (Editor), Debra Cagan (Editor)]. Professor Simonyi also says he is moving from Johns Hopkins to George Washington University.

1. Dagfinn Høybråten, Nordic Council of Ministers: Nordic countries combined population: 27 million people. Sixty years ago, common passport; common labor & education markets too. Proximity is important, but common values matter. Three core Nordic values guide the way we work together–Trust, Gender Equality, Sustainability.

  • Trust: in Nordic countries, they basically trust people that they don’t know; among the world’s highest level of social trust (in people, institutions, business relations). If you have it, you don’t need as much regulation. (Trust is helping to found Nordic Innovation Houses, in Silicon Valley, now New York City, Singapore, Hong Kong)
  • Gender Equality: we are not perfect, but better than in many other areas; gender equality in labor markets. Drives transparency, fairness. Increases in women’s employment have added 10-20% GDP last 40 years.
  • Sustainability: Good for people, society, world, and good for business.

2. Þorbjörg Vigfúsdóttir: Education and health are keys to Nordic culture.

3. Kirsti Kauppi, Finland US Ambassador. “The most important value is equality.” And the best way to implement equality is through education. Especially primary education system. Yet “a good education system today is not [necessarily] a good education for tomorrow.”

4. Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden US Ambassador. Equality: Sweden has declared itself the first feminist government. It means all government policies have to note what they have to do with female equality. Sweden has 80% employment rate for women; USA about 67%. Strengthens economy, she says.

5.  Jorodd Asphjell, Norwegian Parliament. View on Nordic ways. First visit to Seattle; been politician 17 years; 27 million people in Nordic economies.

6. Kåre Aas, Norway US Ambassador. Praises András Simonyi  work on Nordic Ways. Had meeting in Washington State today with Governor Jay Inslee and other Washington officials, labor and business leaders about electric ferries, and beyond, to the Paris Agreement issues also.

Question & Answer Session:

Nobel Peace Prize 1901, selected by Norwegian committee, Alfred Nobel (who was Swedish, and made the other Nobel prizes Swedish-based) specifically made it happen; recognition in the era about Nordic regionalism.

Question on gender equality and quotas. Different countries are taking different approaches.

Comment on national health care approaches. Høybråten (formerly Norway’s Health Minister) responded that the universal care is based on trust value he enumerated above. Safety net will support you if you fall into hard times or health crisis.

Nordic immigration issues: Swedish ambassador says Sweden has most asylum-seekers; do want skilled labor; Swedes historically generous. Sweden “one of the richest countries in the world” so if we can’t help, who will? Issue is that the process takes too long, especially to get new residents and citizens into labor market.

Finnish ambassador says content of the discussion changed after 2015, from a wave of asylum-seekers; 10 times as many came as in previously years. “The situation got out of hand, out-of-control.” People got impression it wouldn’t end. We anticipate more population pressure from Middle East and Africa social histories now. Yet we think the situation will improve.

Another view: we think now to help refugees closer to their home countries; Norway now fifth biggest contributor to Syrian relief. European agreement on immigration is now working. Yet important to solve Middle East crisis, the real source of the refugee crisis. In 2015 there were 52 nationalities coming to Norway claiming to be from Syria; even Cubans!

Høybråten as last commenter, says 2015 a stress-test of Nordic cooperation. He feels they passed the test, and the cooperation is better now.



Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (7)–Norwegian Olympic Movement Strategies for Success

Niels Røine EVP Communications, Norwegian Olympic/Paralympic Committee

AFTERNOON KEYNOTE: “Play, Teamwork, and Performance—or How to Rule the Olympics”

  1. Winter Olympics 2018, Norway won 39 medals, 14 gold, most of any country for winter Olympics; “skiing has always been at the heart of our culture” back to 12th century. Slogan: “We are still pioneering.” Start with childhood; want the kids to be outside, summer and winter. Skiing culture is the foundation for all the winter sports.
  2. One purpose to Norwegian sport: to have joy. Different from emphasis of other countries, including USA. Question: what’s in it for the kids? They have to have joy, and feel that they can manage. Slogan for kids: “I manage.” Last year, 93% of all Norwegian children were in a sports club. 12,000 winter sports clubs.
  3. In Norway, the usual four major sports organizations (national Olympic Committee for example) are in one organization. “A free, open, and democratic popular movement.” Not organized through schools, aim for volunteer engagement.
  4. Values: Honesty; Health; Community; Love of Sport.
  5. Emphasis on leadership; democratic but when decisions are made, everyone has the expectation to follow. Later, evaluation can be made to make changes.
  6. Basic philosophy: Learning from the best athletes; cross-sports experiences; 24-hour-a-day athletes
  7. Always asking questions; “the best athletes always ask the best questions”
  8. Digital world; now “e-sport” will be very important in Norway


Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (6)–Nordic Smart Cities Movement

AFTERNOON FIRST PANEL: “Changing the World from its Northeast Corner I–The Nordic Smart Cities Movement”


Six panelists: Bernt Reitan Jenssen, (CEO, Ruter AS Oslo); Johan Bjorklund, (Ericsson, VP GM Smart City and Market Development); Knut Eirik Gustavsen, eSmart Systems; Teemu Lehtinen (Chief Digital Officer, KIRA-digi project); Goran Sparrman (Seattle Department of Transport)

  1. Jenssen: Oslo Ruter video on public transit, real problem: we pick up people from where they don’t want to be and take them where they don’t want to go. Want to change the public transit industry; example no tickets, just get billed by the month. Focus on user experience.
  2. Bjorklund: Smart Cities like telecom used to be; exciting, but nobody knows quite where it’s going; in 10 years, much more useful technology will be available than the purpose-built today; business model on smart cities using citizen data won’t really work–people are starting to get creeped out about how their data is being used; thus challenge–how do we use this data for peoples’ well-being, rather than being used by those who would monetize it
  3. Goran Sparrman, Seattle Department of Transport: Seattle maybe most dynamic economy in USA today, yet also many social impact issues–transport; equity; housing; Seattle: we view ourselves as the high-tech capital of the United States (sorry, Silicon Valley!); yet developing technology and how it impacts us, so guiding principles: traffic systems; social equitable, affordability of transportation systems; engagement and empowerment on transportation, housing, growth. Q&A: important to deal with data gathering and privacy.
  4. Knut Eirik Gustavsen, eSmart Systems: “Cities have to grow from within”; each city has different needs. If you want a smart city, it has to come from within. His company, practical in approach; want to show things work. Smart small; be practical; help city administration build from within. Q&A: Norway has highest concentration of electric vehicles (EV), straining the grid, EV issues a surprise.
  5. Teemu Lehtinen, Finland: (see; Models as 3D “digital twin” in open data for companies and citizens) Work on quick, experimental projects with 40% government funding, 60% from companies that apply. Q&A: Openness, open standards are key. Ex: mobility/transportation–Finland company WHIM app makes for better user experience
  6. Kris Hanssen, Nordic Semiconductor: Oslo-based company with R&D in Norway, Finland, Poland, USA; “World leader fabless semiconductor”; launched ultra-lower power short-range wireless communication. Only about 10 years, smart phones have come out, and peoples’ lives have changed from these devices, like paying bills with them. So we may have similar and maybe even more positive experiences from smarter devices to come.

Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (5)–Ericsson Speakers on Ericsson 5G Broadband Innovation

Peter Linder (5G in North America), Ericsson, Lunch Keynote; along with Ulf Edwaldsson (5G History from Day1); Robert McCrorey, (5G Innovation in Seattle)

Peter Linder(5G in North America):

1. Today in North America 95% population covered by mobile broadband; 18 Billion connected devices in 2017; 8x worldwide data traffic jump from 2017 to 2023

2. USA per-capita smartphone penetration = 93%; actual people 77% (some have more than one mobile device)

3. Projections: Total mobile traffic grows 8x between 2017 and 2013; in 2023 global 5G traffic is 20%; Video grows 10 times, reaching 75% of total traffic (each of THESE video bits have less information value); today mostly text and pictures

4. Global market for operator service revenue $1.5 T; 2026 only 1.5% more, $1.736; opportunity, digitalization revenues will grow from $968B to $3.458B, 13.6% growth

5. Opportunities (scale driven versus performance-driven; Ericsson has chart with 400-use cases):

5.1  Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB); performance-driven

5.2 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)–example, Verizon, with fixed 15M BB; 100M mobile; they see 30M more household–fiber close to user, then 5G;

5.3 Massive IoT (scale driven)

5.4 Critical IoT (example: self-driving cars)

6. Revenue potential 5G for operators; adding an addressable 36% revenue growth potential

7. Ten most important industries; Manufacturing the largest (18%); agriculture the smallest, about 1% (has pie chart of these segments)

8. “It is all about use-case evolution”

Ex: enhanced mobile broadband from current: screens everywhere, to 5G experience: immersive experience

9. Ericsson pushing to accelerate develop of global standard; expand 5G ecosystems beyond mobile; execute a variety of 5G proof of concept trials; develop insights on 5G industry potential

Ulf Edwaldsson, (5G History from Day1):

10. was CTO; CIO; now advisor to CEO

11. Innovation: “Most things start on a napkin.” In 2012, in San Diego, CTO meeting spoke of next generation

12. “Telecom is a totally standardized industry;” everything has to talk to everything else; standards from 1876; licensing is key

13. Nordic broadband wireless innovation generations: NT (1G); 2002 then 2G (GSM); in 2012, mobile traffic 5 Exabytes (18 zeroes;1 EB = 10006bytes = 1018bytes = 1000000000000000000B = 1000 petabytes = 1millionterabytes = 1billiongigabytes.), as many as every word the human race has ever spoken; about 4.5B subscribers; then 4G

13.1 each generation about 10 years in this technology

14. Today 4G coverage about 55% in world; in next 4 years, 85% (real smartphone experience)

15. Latency; battery life (aim for 10 years’ battery life on any sensor); AI technology based on “sensors everywhere” looping back on itself

16. China wants 5G to modernize its entire industry; “China is a company; the entire nation is a company” so watch their approach; 5G will be a race to modernize industries worldwide (some countries will be left behind)

Robert McCrorey, (5G Innovation in Seattle); works in local Bellevue office; T-Mobile his main client

17. In technology industry, you work with people from all over the world; in Ericsson, 25% employees in R&D; half employees in service (“innovation happens in service as well”); industry founded by Bell in 1876; Ericsson founded in 1876 as well;

18. now ever-increasing impact on society; yet every new positive innovation also brings new problems; ex: social issues with smart phones; RF radiation; Ericsson is willing to discuss technological problems as well as advantages

19. Ericsson has about 10,000 USA employees; HQ in Plano, TX; Net sales $6.093 B (FY 2017); 500 employees in Bellevue; largest customers: att; rogers; sprint; century link etc.

20. Some people say 5G widespread deployment in 2020; yet that period really is about early use-cases; innovations will cycle rapidly the more deployment is done




Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (4)–“Coming to America, 21st Century Migration”

Second morning panel: “Coming to America–Venture-Backed Migration in the 21st Century”

Moderator: Katrine Joensen, (Consul General Denmark); Tor-Ove Henriksen, (Skooler); Aren Tonning, (Alliance Venture); Thomas Ryd, (CEO; Petra Hilleberg, (CEO, Hilleberg the Tentmaker);

Mathias Björkholm (Picket); 100 million photos uploaded to Internet five years ago; now 5 billion

Panelists speak of cultural differences. Sales and marketing may be somewhat difficult for Nordic cultural background people. One panelist says his children, in USA schools, are learning to present themselves and present in front of people.

One panelist says in Nordic companies, flatter structure, more consensus approaches.

A panelist says in Sweden “we’re not working FOR someone, we’re working TOGETHER with someone.” A different approach from many USA worker mentalities.

A panelist wants his company not to use titles, make business a purpose-driven mission. Wants completely autonomous, decentralized approach in the workplace.

A panelist says their different offices in USA and Nordic is that the USA office is more direct, maybe faster in getting things done because of it.

To migrate in, you need lots of help. You need to make friends.

[Nota Bene: this last comment by a panelist is a good observation, with good advice. Coming to another country as an expatriate is challenging; it’s hard work, and stressful. Even going to the grocery store in a country that’s foreign to you can be stressful. So making local friends is a good survival skill, and changes the equation for you as a visitor. It makes a better in-country experience for you, and you may find friendships that last–through time, and across space. JEG]


Liveblogging the 2018 Nordic Innovation Conference, Seattle (3)–“The Nordic Startup Explosion”

Panel Discussion: The Nordic Startup Explosion

Moderator: Todd Bishop, Geekwire; Panelists: Fredrik Cassel (Creandum); Gro Eirin Dyrnes (Nordic Innovation House); Hartti Suomela (Business Finland); Dr. John Markus Lervik (Cognite AS)

Issues about technical competence, yet the need for marketing skills is clear.

One panelist says USA visa issues are discouraging now for Nordic entrepreneurs to want to come to USA versus staying in the positive business-setting of the Nordic region.

Panelist Hartti Suomela, Business Finland, points to major startup event in Helsinki, Slush.

Here is text from the Slush website:


During what is – let’s be honest – the sh*ttiest weather season of the year, Slush brings together the leading actors of the global tech scene to Helsinki for something very special. Described by many as “Burning Man meets TED”, the event has grown in just a few short years to 20,000 attendees and 1 million live stream viewers.

In 2017, over 2,600 startups, 1,500 venture capitalists, and 600 journalists from over 130 countries gathered to Slush to drive business, and to experience the phenomenal atmosphere.

Questions about venture capital market and angel funding; positive in Nordics, yet USA funding environment has “deeper war-chest, which allows for more mistakes.”

Nordic governments have more engaged role for start-up companies; have matching grants, for example.

Categories for upcoming positive startups: AI; machine-learning (panel notes China much involved in this; Finland government has also focused on this); Norway, oil/gas, maritime areas; 5G connectivity space with Ericsson and Nokia is good (and USA restrictions in this space against Chinese companies, so creates opportunities).

Direct local connection between financial sources and startups; even direct air connection can make a difference. Finnair now has a direct air connection from Finland to Silicon Valley.

One panelist says it’s OK if it’s hard to break into USA market, because it forces the Nordic companies to become more competitive, to be better.

A panelist says focus on Nordic entrepreneur strengths, don’t compete with China on labor costs or USA on equity wealth; compete with work-ethic, loyalty (much less employee turnover).

Another says: keep your focus on a niche; pursue wholeheartedly. This may be different from Silicon Valley.

Key take-aways:

1. Dyrnes: from Silicon Valley perspective, many surprising companies bringing passion to market; I’m optimistic.

2. Lervik: Nordic startups may be much more lowkey than others; yet much depth in these companies often; (typical Nordic culture attribute).

3. Suomela: focus on niche, get out early with product.

4. Cassel: Nordic society and technology now more important than ever.